A clothing company launched to help refugee artisans find work has created a nonprofit organization to help displaced persons, including human trafficking victims, meet the challenges of living in the U.S.
Both organizations were co-founded by Nell Green, a Houston-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship missionary, and her entrepreneur daughter Christen Kinard.
The Off Ramp is the brand-new nonprofit with Green at the helm as CEO. It will function as a sister organization to Threads by Nomad, the women’s clothing line launched in 2016 and run by Kinard.
Threads features clothing, including its new collection, produced with fabrics from around the world and in collaboration with refugees in the U.S. and creators abroad.
In running that business, Green and Kinard became inundated with requests for all manner of help from other refugees, immigrants and other displaced persons.
“We were doing a lot of benevolent work, helping other refugees with their skill sets,” said Green, whose CBF field personnel experience includes extensive ministry to refugees, immigrants and human trafficking victims.
“Some wanted help finding jobs or with their resumes, help with their FAFSA (student aid) forms or getting help accessing the Affordable Care Act,” she said.
It was too much to handle, given the needs of Threads by Nomad, Kinard said.
“Threads is a business and it definitely took our focus away from the bottom line and building our business,” she said.
The Off Ramp will provide the undivided attention that displaced persons are seeking.
“If someone comes to us with a desire to learn how to sew, how to craft, or has the skills but needs development, The Off Ramp can provide that,” Kinard said. “If a person then wants to go to work for Threads, awesome, or they can start their own business.”
It’s in that way that Threads by Nomad and The Off Ramp will function as sister organizations helping each other, Green said.
The “what we do” section of The Off Ramp web site lists job preparedness and soft skills development, business knowledge and marketability, and crisis intervention and trafficking prevention.
A verse from Leviticus is also given: “Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.”
That passage is the driving principle behind the new nonprofit, Green said, and it’s why those eligible for help extends beyond legally settled refugees.
“Their needs are significant,” she said. “The Off Ramp is going to be available to anybody who is displaced.”
And they will be served as long as they have needs, Green added.
“We are in it for the long haul. You might need help figuring out your finances for 10 years – we have mentors for that.”
The idea behind the organization is also summed up in its name, Green said.
In refugee and immigration work, the geographical trajectories displaced persons take from their starting points to safety are known as refugee highways.
“What we are doing,” Green said, “is providing an off ramp.”